Vietnam court upholds death sentence against Thai girl

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An appeals court in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday upheld a death sentence against a 23-year-old Thai student who was convicted of trafficking drugs into Vietnam in June.

At a hearing held by the People's Supreme Court in HCMC, the board of judges said they turned down Preeyanooch Phuttharaksa's appeal for a sentence reduction because she had transported a huge amount of drugs into Vietnam, which was an "extremely serious" act.

The woman, a university student in Bangkok, was caught with more than three kilograms of methamphetamine when she arrived at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat International Airport on October 29 last year.

She was transporting the drugs for a person of unknown identity and referred to as Jom from Doha, Qatar, to Vietnam for 50,000 baht (US$1,600). The drugs were given to Phuttharaksa in Benin, before she flew to Morocco's Casablanca city, and then Doha.

According to the student, she also transported drugs for Jom on two different occasions in February and March that same year, for 4,000 baht ($130) and $300, respectively.

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Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of meth face the death penalty.

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